Delta-8 THC products are the newest, best selling products in the hemp and CBD market but unfortunately very few people know what this cannabinoid is, what it does, the legal implications shrouding it, and the process used to make it. Our dispensary in downtown Concord receives multiple calls daily from people asking if we carry it, yet these same people are in awe when I explain to them the details behind D8 that the other CBD retailers are hiding from them about these products.
What is Delta-8 THC?
Delta-8 THC is a naturally occurring cannabinoid similar to CBD or Delta-9 THC, the cannabinoid know for marijuana's psychoactive effects. The main differences though is that Delta-8 THC is similar yet lighter in strength than Delta-9 THC and D8 is a minor cannabinoid that only exists at extremely low levels in any cannabis plants currently being cultivated. These levels don't exceed a fraction of a percent, therefore it is not possible to distill naturally. This leaves processors with one option, isomerization(the process of changing the chemical structure of one compound to an isomer). Delta-8 holds a very similar chemical structure to CBD making it an isomer of that cannabinoid.
How is Delta-8 THC made?
Since Delta-8 is an isomer of CBD, processors have been using CBD isolate to create these products. CBD isolate is blended with a catalyst (a substance used to increase the rate of a chemical reaction), a solvent, and a neutralizer to the catalyst. At Piedmont Green CBD, we have thoroughly vetted 10-20 different processors producing Delta-8 and in that process we found that processors will either refuse to disclose their extraction process, or will be using a quite alarming process. We found that most processors are washing their CBD isolate with a solvent, blending that with hydrochloric acid to produce the reaction to transform CBD to Delta-8, then neutralizing the acid with a buffer, most are using baking soda. Now the solvent can easily be removed with a rotary evaporator, but the hydrochloric acid and baking soda are there to stay. Before we move on to the legality section, this process does not JUST produce Delta-8 THC. At minute 24:54 of the following linked video, they talk on chromatography analysis of the D8 they are producing. They break down how there are multiple "unknowns" that come up in their extraction. That is a very worrisome concept to us a Piedmont Green. Knowledge is key in the cannabis industry and currently we do not know nearly enough about this isomerization process and the potential harm that it could cause people ingesting these chemicals.
Is Delta-8 THC Legal?
Technically, yes but it is shrouded in uncertainty across the United States.
In August of 2020, the DEA released a policy regarding synthetic THC stating that it is considered a schedule 1 controlled substance by the federal government. Click to view the DEA policy HERE. Although the process used to make Delta-8 is creating a synthetically derived cannabinoid, it is still derived from hemp and the 2018 Farm Bill signed by congress states that products derived from hemp plants at or below .3% Delta-9 THC are considered legal by the U.S. government. The DEA cannot enforce a policy that goes against congress, hence why Delta-8 THC is technically legal and active on the open market.
Delta-8 advocates have also quoted the Agricultural Marketing Bill of 1946 as proof of D8's legality. "The definition of hemp in this bill signed over 70 years ago is as follows: The term "hemp" means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis." To read the full bill click HERE. Fun fact, this is also the bill that they got the .3% limit on hemp that is currently in place.
Is Delta-8 THC safe?
In our opinion, a strong NO IT IS NOT SAFE and in several different ways for multiple reasons.
1) The process of using acids and baking soda in a cannabis product cannot be safe especially with the lack of regulation in the hemp industry. As of right now, the lab testing required by hemp/CBD/D8 companies does not test for residual acids or buffers as they have never been used in cannabis extraction for products being taken to market. The only isomerization that has been done before the Delta-8 surge was in a lab research setting. We feel strongly that without proper testing to see if this process is safe for human consumption, it is not safe and we will refuse to make or sell it to our clients.
2) The most popular D8 product on the market is the vape cartridges. Vaping is similar to cigarettes back in the 50's. We have no idea about the long-term potential harm because it hasn't been around for long enough. Then on top of that you're using D8, a synthetically derived compound in there loaded with acids and buffers. That does not seem safe in the least bit.
3) Some Delta-8 products have been found to contain bleach. Yeah, BLEACH. Clarity in all-natural Delta-9 THC is a sign of high quality, but in Delta-8 it is a sign that the processors are using a bleaching agent. Delta-8 when made without bleach is a rose-gold-like color.
4) While vetting all the national and local brands producing Delta-8, we found a very shady practice going on; NDAs and shared COAs. An NDA is a non-disclosure agreement and makes it so that a company cannot share information that they consider "proprietary". This is basically corporate talk for, "We won't tell anyone our process so leave us alone" and that has no place in the cannabis industry. We found that any processor claiming that they are making their D8 "All-Naturally" will claim that their process is proprietary information and won't tell you a thing. COAs are a certificate of analysis and it is the industry standard that all cannabis products must have this testing done by a 3rd party before going to market. The vast majority of the COAs sent to us we're "Shared" COAs. If a COA ever looks like the examples below and does NOT show company information from the people selling it, it is a shared COA. That means that the product tested on that form is most likely in no way the same product that they are selling.
5) Also while vetting D8 companies, we found major brands claiming that most labs do not have the analytical capabilities to distinguishing synthetic D8 to its natural D9 cousin. If this is the case, then that means if a law enforcement officer was to confiscate your D8 product under suspicion of it really being marijuana, it could potentially test as Delta-9 and get you into trouble. On top of that, it is not at all safe for anyone who has mandatory drug screenings, it is very likely you will fail for marijuana with Delta-8.
At Piedmont Green CBD we firmly believe that these products are a danger not only the people's health, but to the cannabis industry as a whole. We know so little about D8, isomerization, and the effects that these products could have on people. If people begin to have negative reactions to Delta-8, not only would that be horrible for that individual, but it could also stop North Carolinians from eventually having access to all-natural, medicinal Delta-9 THC legally. Our legislators are already blatantly against cannabis reform. If we are having people getting sick or even dying from these new, unregulated D8 products there is a huge chance that our legislators will use that as an excuse to block any future cannabis reform in our State.
Bottom line, we recommend to avoid D8 and retailers carrying it. In my personal opinion, any store that carries Delta-8 and does not explain it to their clients pre-purchase, does not care about there clients' health, just taking their money.
Please contact us at 704-314-4321 for any additional Delta-8 questions!
Thanks for reading, knowledge is power!